As a small business consultant who has worked with owners from a variety of different industries, I have yet to see small business brand marketing outperform strategical direct response marketing.
It’s been my experience that new or recently established small businesses tend to operate on an extremely limited budget when it comes to advertising and marketing. And the way a business owner invests these miniscule funds can ultimately become the difference between overwhelming success or a dismal failure.
But before going further, let’s take a quick look see at what brand marketing is and why I don’t recommend it for any small business.
First off, I’m not talking about your brand image such as your logo or website. Every business should have a distinctive look and feel that sets them apart from its competition.
What I’m referring to is the marketing strategy you take to attract customers and get sales.
Most advertising representatives will tell you that branding your business is crucial for “top of mind” awareness.
Their “pitch” will convince you that you need to use the radio, tv, billboard, social media, etc. to deliver your message repeatedly so when one of those prospects are in the market for your service they’ll remember your ad and will contact you first.
This theory might work if there weren’t hundreds of other businesses battling to win over the same prospects as you are.
Its a proven fact that people have become completely numb to advertising as we once knew it. For your small business to be successful with brand marketing you’ll need to have a monsterous budget and ample time to realize any return from your efforts.
This is why the majority of companies that use branding as a marketing method are large corporations which not only have deep pockets, but do it for many reasons outside of just acquiring new customers.
Large corporations need to promote their brands to appease stock holders, investors, marketing expenditures (yes, they must spend a set amount on advertising every year), and more.
Small businesses don’t need to observe any of these nuances and can focus their marketing directly on obtaining new customers.
So to state it clearly, small business owners shouldn’t copy the branding strategies of large corporations and are better off adopting methods that generate an immediate return for their money.
Direct response marketing is what allows small business owners to achieve measurable returns in a short time frame, while eliminating the guesswork of whether your advertising is working or not.
Direct response marketing, done correctly, will strategically target your ideal customer and entice them to take action NOW, rather than later.
Let me put it to you like this, if you only had a marketing budget of $10,000 or less and need customers yesterday to sustain your business, would it be best to brand your business with the hope that customers will eventually remember you in the future or go directly after prospects who could use your services NOW?
Well that’s the difference between brand marketing and direct response marketing.
I haven’t yet met a small business owner who can leisurely wait months or even years to get a customer from marketing they’re investing in today.
In fact, most of the small businesses I’ve consulted need a marketing plan to get customers instantly or risk closing their doors within 6 to 12 months.
Benefits of Direct Response Marketing:
1) Targeted Campaigns –
One of the biggest advantages of direct response marketing over brand marketing is that it’s targeted to a business’s ideal prospect.
Unlike branding, where a message is “shotgun” delivered to a general audience, direct response is like using a sniper rifle to hit an exact target.
Direct response will require you to perform more upfront research on your market, your customer and the needs of that customer, but the results are immediate.
When you learn how, when, why and where your ideal customer buys you can formulate a message that will appeal to them specifically.
Even knowing who your ideal customer is… what’s their income, their hobbies, do they have children, are they homeowners; these are all criteria you need to discover to execute an effective direct response marketing campaignmarketing campaign.
2) Lead Generation –
Getting your prospects to take an immediate action is the focal point of direct response marketing.
This action normally involves the prospect sharing their contact details like a name, email address or phone number so you can follow up with future offers.
By presenting your prospects with an irresistible offer in return for their information you can be proactive in developing rapport and guiding them towards purchasing your services.
Response eliminates guessing. No longer do you have to wonder if someone “out there” is interested in what you have, now the number of responses you obtain will help confirm the success of your marketing message.
3) Funnel Management –
In case you don’t know, a marketing funnel represents the steps it takes to convert a lead into a sale.
With direct response marketing you have control over the entire buying process and can accurately pinpoint the steps that work and ones that need improvement.
For instance, you might have a great offer that pulls in loads of leads, but maybe the tools you use for following up are weak. With this data you can tweak your follow up where necessary and proceed to turn those leads into sales.
4) List Building –
I always advocate the importance of list building to small businesses, because a list is easily the most vital asset ANY business can have.
When you have a growing list of prospects/customers that you can communicate with at any time, you can dramatically increase profits by selling more to previous customers and requesting referrals.
The absolute worst thing to do in business is to make a sell to a customer and have no way to reach out to them for future purchases.
But that is the very reason why most small businesses have to pour unnecessary amounts of money into advertising. They fail to embrace the long-term value of a customer they’ve already paid for, and prefer wasting more money on trying to get new customers.
If there were a “secret” to succeeding in business, it would be to make as much money as possible serving the customers you currently have.
It’s so much more profitable to upsell current customers than it is to acquire new ones.
My conclusion is this… Brand marketing for a small business is a waste of time and money.
If you want an immediate return for your Investment practice direct response marketing which will assist you with filling your funnel with leads, converting the leads to sales and getting loyal customers to buy more, more often.
Otherwise you can take your risks on small business brand marketing in hopes that repetition will indeed deliver new customers.